Originally created 10/03/02

CBS wins first week in TV ratings race



NEW YORK -- It promises to be the clash of the network titans this television season: CBS vs. NBC.

Round one goes to CBS.

It was the most popular network during opening week of the new season, narrowly beating its top rival. CBS averaged 13.9 million viewers last week in prime-time, while NBC had 13.4 million.

Media executives used to talk about the Big Three, or even Big Four, networks. Now it's arguably the Big Two, with the Medium Two (ABC and Fox) and Little Three (the WB, UPN and Pax TV) trailing. ABC and Fox both struggled mightily last year in the ratings, and there's no immediate sign of a turnaround.

The Big Two have most of television's popular shows: "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," "Everybody Loves Raymond," "Survivor" and the new "CSI: Miami" on CBS; "Friends," "ER," "Frasier" and "The West Wing" on NBC.

Of the top 30 shows in Nielsen Media Research's ratings for opening week, CBS had 13 and NBC had 12. ABC had five.

CBS and NBC also have two high-profile, hyper-competitive leaders in CBS President Les Moonves and NBC Entertainment President Jeff Zucker, who love nothing more than grabbing every possible edge and tweaking each other.

"Les who?" Zucker said.

One way they're scraping for an advantage: NBC said Tuesday that "Friends" would run an extra two minutes long all season, delaying the show after it, although Zucker said that wouldn't mean more ads. It could cut into the ratings of rival shows, however. CBS stretched "CSI" an extra minute last week to cram in extra promotional annoucements.

Both leaders were quick to claim first week victories.

"We're very pleased we won," Moonves said. "Once again, I've been in the business long enough (to know) that one week does not the season make. Anything can happen. We're pleased with how our returning shows did and pleased with how our new shows opened, by and large."

With 30.4 million viewers, "CSI" was the week's most popular drama, beating NBC's "ER" by nearly 4 million viewers. The Monday night spinoff, "CSI: Miami," wasn't far behind, with 23.1 million people watching.

Back-to-back new episodes of "Everybody Loves Raymond" averaged nearly 24 million viewers.

NBC's comedy "Friends," likely in its last season, opened with 34 million viewers, the week's most popular show. "Frasier" and "Will & Grace" also had strong openings.

Besides "CSI: Miami," both networks also had some promising freshman shows: "Without a Trace," "Presidio Med" and "Hack" all finished in the week's top 30 for CBS, while "Good Morning Miami," "Hidden Hills," "American Dreams" and "Boomtown" did the same for NBC.

NBC, which won last year's opening week and the season as a whole, was down 1 percent in viewers compared to the same week in 2001. CBS was up 11 percent, according to Nielsen.

"We're thrilled to be this close in the total viewers race," Zucker said. "That's not the game we play. In demographics, which is the only game we play, we're still dominant."

NBC concentrates on the advertiser-desired 18-to-49-year-old age demographic, where it easily beat CBS and others for the week.

There will be no losers in this battle, Moonves said.

"At this point in time it's more about bragging rights than anything else," he said. "With these performances by both networks, it's going to mean a great financial year for both of them. Advertising is going to be very strong."

Meanwhile, ABC averaged 9.9 million viewers, down 16 percent from the year before. Fox's 7.1 million was up 4 percent from the year before.

ABC has a handful of bright spots: "My Wife and Kids" is poised for a breakout year, and its fellow comedy, "8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teen-aged Daughter," is doing alright. Yet two of ABC's new shows - the highly-touted "Push, Nevada" and "That Was Then" - had disastrous weeks.

ABC argued it was unfair to compare this year's opening week with last year's, since now-canceled shows "Spin City" and "Dharma and Greg" started strong in 2001 and collapsed.

"We are much better poised this season than last season," ABC spokesman Kevin Brockman said.

The WB had a lot to brag about, up 48 percent from last year behind successes "Smallville," "Gilmore Girls" and "Everwood."

Last week's averages: CBS, 13.9 million viewers (9.1 rating, 15 share); NBC, 13.4 million (8.9, 15); ABC, 9.9 million (6.6, 11); Fox, 7.1 million (4.5, 7); the WB, 4.5 million (2.8, 4), UPN, 4.2 million (2.6, 4); Pax TV, 1.2 million (0.9, 1).

NBC's "Nightly News" won the evening news ratings race, averaging 9.7 million viewers (7.1 rating, 15 share). ABC's "World News Tonight" had 9 million viewers (6.5, 14) and the "CBS Evening News" 7.9 million (5.6, 12).

A ratings point represents 1,067,000 households, or 1 percent of the nation's estimated 106.7 million TV homes. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.

Prime-time ratings compiled by Nielsen Media Research for the week of Sept. 23-29. Top 20 listings include the week's ranking, with rating for the week and season-to-date rankings in parentheses.

An "X" in parentheses denotes a one-time-only presentation. The rating is the percentage of the nation's estimated 106.7 million TV homes. Each ratings point represents 1,067,000 households.

1. (1) "Friends," NBC, 20.3, 21.7 million homes.

2. (2) "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," CBS, 18.2, 19.4 million homes.

3. (3) "ER," NBC, 16.9, 18.0 million homes.

4. (X) "Everybody Loves Raymond," CBS, 15.3, 16.3 million homes.

5. (4) "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation: Miami," CBS, 14.9, 16.0 million homes.

6. (5) "Everybody Loves Raymond," CBS, 14.7, 15.7 million homes.

7. (6) "Frasier," NBC, 14.1, 15.1 million homes.

8. (7) "Will & Grace," NBC, 13.9, 14.8 million homes.

9. (8) "Scrubs," NBC, 13.8, 14.7 million homes.

10. (9) "NFL Monday Night Football: St. Louis at Tampa Bay," ABC, 12.5, 13.4 million homes.

11. (10) "Survivor: Thailand," CBS, 12.3, 13.1 million homes.

12. (11) "West Wing," NBC, 12.0, 12.9 million homes.

13. (12) "Good Morning Miami," NBC, 11.8, 12.6 million homes.

14. (13) "JAG," CBS, 10.8, 11.6 million homes.

15. (14) "Without a Trace," CBS, 10.7, 11.4 million homes.

16. (15) "Law and Order: Criminal Intent," NBC, 10.6, 11.3 million homes.

17. (16) "Hidden Hills," NBC, 10.5, 11.2 million homes.

18. (17) "Law and Order: Special Victim's Unit," NBC, 10.3, 11.0 million homes.

19. (19) "The Guardian," CBS, 9.6, 10.2 million homes.

19. (19) "Yes, Dear," CBS, 9.6, 10.3 million homes.

-------------

21. "King of Queens," CBS, 9.3

22. "American Dreams," NBC, 9.2

22. "My Wife and Kids," ABC, 9.2

22. "NYPD Blue," ABC, 9.2

22. "The Practice," ABC, 9.2

26. "60 Minutes," CBS, 9.1

27. "Boomtown," NBC, 9.0

27. (X) "Presidio Med Special," CBS, 9.0

29. "Hack," CBS, 8.4

30. "8 Simple Rules," ABC, 8.3

31. "NFL Monday Showcase," ABC, 7.9

32. "Big Brother 3-Wednesday," CBS, 7.8

32. (X) "In-laws," NBC, 7.8

34. "60 Minutes II," CBS, 7.6

35. "Dateline NBC-Friday," NBC, 7.5

36. "Dateline NBC-Tuesday," NBC, 7.3

36. (X) "Life with Bonnie," ABC, 7.3

38. "Fear Factor," NBC, 7.1

39. "ABC Saturday Night at the Movies: The Green Mile," ABC, 7.0

39. "Alias," ABC, 7.0

39. "Ed," NBC, 7.0

42. "20/20-Friday," ABC, 6.9

42. "Crossing Jordan," NBC, 6.9

42. "The District," CBS, 6.9

45. "The Agency," CBS, 6.5

46. "In-laws," NBC, 6.3

46. "Presidio Med," CBS, 6.3

48. (X) "Bachelor, Revealed," ABC, 6.2

49. "CBS Sunday Movie: Mission: Impossible II," CBS, 5.9

50. "Dateline NBC-Sunday," NBC, 5.8

51. "Robbery Homicide Division," CBS, 5.6

51. "That '70s Show," Fox, 5.6

53. "Fastlane," Fox, 5.4

53. (X) "Inside NYPD Blue: A Decade on the Job," ABC, 5.4

55. "MDs," ABC, 5.3

56. "America's Funniest Home Videos," ABC, 5.2

57. "7th Heaven," WB, 5.0

57. "Monk," ABC, 5.0

57. "Touched by an Angel," CBS, 5.0

60. "Bernie Mac," Fox, 4.9

60. "Cedric the Entertainer Presents," Fox, 4.9

60. "Cops 2: Coast to Coast," Fox, 4.9

63. "48 Hours Investigates," CBS, 4.8

63. "Smallville," WB, 4.8

65. (X) "American Idol in Vegas," Fox, 4.7

65. "America's Most Wanted: America Fights Back," Fox, 4.7

65. (X) "Fox Movie Special: The Matrix," Fox, 4.7

68. "Grounded For Life," Fox, 4.6

69. (X) "ABC Sunday Night Movies: Prince William," ABC, 4.5

70. "John Doe," Fox, 4.4

71. "Primetime Thursday," ABC, 4.3

72. "Cops: Kids in Danger," Fox, 4.1

72. (X) "Fox Movie Special: Rush Hour," Fox, 4.1

72. (X) "Simpsons Special," Fox, 4.1

75. "The Drew Carey Show," ABC, 3.8

75. "Gilmore Girls," WB, 3.8

75. "NBC Saturday Night Movies: Kiss the Girls," NBC, 3.8

78. "Firefly," Fox, 3.6

78. "Whose Line is it Anyway?," ABC, 3.6

78. "WWE Smackdown!," UPN, 3.6

81. "Everwood," WB, 3.4

82. (X) "Celebrity Daredevils," Fox, 3.3

83. "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," UPN, 3.1

83. "Charmed," WB, 3.1

83. "One on One," UPN, 3.1

83. "Push, Nevada," ABC, 3.1

87. "Enterprise," UPN, 3.0

87. "The Parkers," UPN, 3.0

87. "Reba," WB, 3.0

90. "Girlfriends," UPN, 2.9

90. "That Was Then," ABC, 2.9

92. "Half and Half," UPN, 2.8

93. (X) "Simpsons Special 09/29," Fox, 2.6

94. "What I Like About You," WB, 2.5

95. "Greetings From Tucson," WB, 2.4

95. (X) "Spy TV," NBC, 2.4

95. "WB Wednesday Movie: Blade," WB, 2.4

98. "Sabrina the Teenage Witch," WB, 2.3

99. "The Twilight Zone," UPN, 2.2

100. "Family Affair," WB, 1.9

100. "Haunted," UPN, 1.9

102. "Do Over," WB, 1.8

103. "Gilmore Girls Beginnings," WB, 1.7

104. "Jamie Kennedy," WB, 1.6

105. "Angel - Sunday," WB, 1.5

105. "Doc-Sunday," Pax, 1.5

107. "Diagnosis Murder-Thursday," Pax, 1.3

107. "Off Centre," WB, 1.3

107. "UPN's Movie Friday: The Crow 3: Salavation," UPN, 1.3

110. "Just Cause-Sunday," Pax, 1.2

111. "Diagnosis Murder-Wednesday," Pax, 1.0

112. "America's Faovrite Movies: How the West Was Won," Pax, 0.9

112. "Diagnosis Murder-Monday, 8 p.m.," Pax, 0.9

112. "Diagnosis Murder-Tuesday," Pax, 0.9

115. "Body and Soul-Monday," Pax, 0.8

115. "Body and Soul-Sunday," Pax, 0.8

115. "Diagnosis Murder-Friday," Pax, 0.8

118. "Candid Camera-Sunday," Pax, 0.7

118. "Diagnosis Murder-Monday," Pax, 0.7

118. "Doc-Wednesday," Pax, 0.7

118. "Friday Night Flix: Heart of Fire," Pax, 0.7

118. "Weakest Link," Pax, 0.7

123. "It's a Miracle," Pax, 0.6

123. "Just Cause-Tuesday," Pax, 0.6

125. "Candid Camera-Wednesday," Pax, 0.5

On the Net:

Nielsen Media Research Web site:

http://www.nielsenmedia.com.